The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a nationwide warning on the dangers of illicit fentanyl and its analogues/compounds being laced in heroin, which can lead to significant problems especially with rising heroin abuse.

Fentanyl is a Schedule II narcotic used as an analgesic and anesthetic. It is the most potent opioid available for use in medical treatment – 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl is potentially lethal, even at very low levels. Ingestion of small doses as small as 0.25mg can be fatal. Its euphoric effects are indistinguishable from morphine or heroin.

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The DEA has reported a recent recurrence in fentanyl-related seizures; state and local labs have reported 3,344 fentanyl submissions in 2014 alone. Fentanyl abuse has also risen the past two years in Russia, Ukraine, Sweden, and Denmark. The origin of the precursor chemicals has been identified as companies from Mexico, Germany, Japan, and China.

Law enforcement has also been warned of fentanyl absorption through the skin and accidental inhalation of airborne powder as they may encounter fentanyl in buy-walk or buy-bust operations. The DEA plans to directly attack the drug trafficking networks that are producing and importing illicit fentanyl.

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